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Is eating blood the same as blood transfusions?

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Posted on Sat, 5 Dec 2015
Question: In the Bible, eating blood is prohibited.
Are blood transfusions the same as eating blood?
The logic used is:
1. If a doctor told you not to drink alcohol would you inject it into your veins? No. So if God told you not to eat blood would you inject it into your veins? No.
2. Intravenous feeding is the eating through the veins, so blood transfusions is also eating through the veins since blood transports nutriments to all cells of the body.
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
I would suggest taking this up with a clergy person or spiritual advisor.

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

These are good, thoughtful questions, and some religions have considered these questions and rejected blood transfusions.

As I'm sure you have figured, doctors are not trained in whether medical procedures are prohibited by the Bible, as the practice of medicine is non-denominational and modern medicine is practiced around the world, regardless of religion. The practice of medicine began before the birth of western religions (Christianity, Judaism).

Some religions, such as Jehova's Witness, and Christian Scientists do prohibit blood transfusions. Most other religions allow for blood transfusions.

I don't think any of the doctors on this site will be able to answer your religious based question definitively, so I would refer you to the clergy of the religion you follow.

Standard intravenous fluid does not contain nutrition such as proteins or carbohydrates. They contain salts, and sometimes glucose (a broken down sugar).

Feeding thru a main blood vessel when a person has not been able to take in any nutrition for a prolonged period of time is TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and does contain all nutrients, so is like food that has been digested and is ready to be absorbed.

Something else to think on: Orthodox Jews kosher their meat with koshering salt, allowing the salt to sit on the meat for a certain length of time to absorb any blood and then rinsing. They do this to follow the ordinance to not eat blood. Most Christians and less religious Jews do not do this. So if you do not do this, you may be eating blood too. Just something to consider.

While there is no medical answer to your question, and this is a medical rather than religious based site, I hope the information I've provided adds to your thoughts and discussion on this topic.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (1 hour later)
Medically speaking, Isn't it true that transfused blood cannot be defined medically as blood that is being eaten?
For example, eating a liver, is NOT the same as having a liver transplant.  So if a doctor told someone to NOT eat liver, that doesn't mean he cannot have a liver transplant also, because eating a piece of liver, and having a liver transplant is two entirely different things.

So, in the same way, eating blood is NOT the same as having a blood transfusion, since a blood transfusion is akin to a tissue transplant, where it is NOT digested in any way, and remains in the body to perform its assigned task of transporting nutrients to all the cells in the body, just as a liver transplant remains in the body and performs its assigned task of cleaning your blood, produces an important digestive liquid called bile, stores energy in the form of a sugar called glycogen.
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Yes, I believe this is true.

Detailed Answer:
Yes, from a medical perspective, transfused blood would not be considered eaten blood.

Transfused blood is not digested and assimilated the way food is. It remains in the blood stream until broken down and eliminated as if it is the recipient's own blood - providing there is no significant incompatibility (with major or minor blood types).
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3138 Questions

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Is eating blood the same as blood transfusions?

Brief Answer: I would suggest taking this up with a clergy person or spiritual advisor. Detailed Answer: Hello and welcome, These are good, thoughtful questions, and some religions have considered these questions and rejected blood transfusions. As I'm sure you have figured, doctors are not trained in whether medical procedures are prohibited by the Bible, as the practice of medicine is non-denominational and modern medicine is practiced around the world, regardless of religion. The practice of medicine began before the birth of western religions (Christianity, Judaism). Some religions, such as Jehova's Witness, and Christian Scientists do prohibit blood transfusions. Most other religions allow for blood transfusions. I don't think any of the doctors on this site will be able to answer your religious based question definitively, so I would refer you to the clergy of the religion you follow. Standard intravenous fluid does not contain nutrition such as proteins or carbohydrates. They contain salts, and sometimes glucose (a broken down sugar). Feeding thru a main blood vessel when a person has not been able to take in any nutrition for a prolonged period of time is TPN (total parenteral nutrition) and does contain all nutrients, so is like food that has been digested and is ready to be absorbed. Something else to think on: Orthodox Jews kosher their meat with koshering salt, allowing the salt to sit on the meat for a certain length of time to absorb any blood and then rinsing. They do this to follow the ordinance to not eat blood. Most Christians and less religious Jews do not do this. So if you do not do this, you may be eating blood too. Just something to consider. While there is no medical answer to your question, and this is a medical rather than religious based site, I hope the information I've provided adds to your thoughts and discussion on this topic.